Finland/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.2 National definition of culture

There is no official national definition of culture in Finnish cultural policy. The Ministry of Education and culture define cultural policy and its role in the strategy for cultural policy for 2020 (published in 2009):

The aim in government cultural policy is to promote creativity, plurality and inclusion. The means to this end are to provide favourable conditions for the work of artists, other creative workers and cultural and art institutions; to promote the preservation and development of cultural heritage and cultural environments; to enhance equal access to, accessibility of and diverse use of culture; to boost production, employment and entrepreneurship in the cultural sector; and to reinforce the cultural foundation of society.

Thus, culture is understood in both wider and narrower sense. In the same strategy the Ministry declares that artistic creativity and artistic work are and have been at the heart of cultural policy. The intrinsinc value of art and culture is emphasised, as is the meaning of cultural heritage for civilisation and plurality. Since early 2000s, there has also been several attempts to submit the arts and culture under broader categories of creative industries, creative economy, regional or innovation policies, entrepreneurship, or knowledge intensive industries on the other hand and the well-being and welfare, societal aspects of culture on the other. In addition, multiculturalism and sustainable development are mentioned as central modes of action for Finnish cultural policy.

This rhetoric has been one of the central ways in which the significance and influence of culture for wider societal, economical or regional development has been emphasised strategically.  

In the Finnish official cultural statistics, culture is defined both in a wider and a narrower sense. In the narrower sense, the term "culture" covers first the arts, which means creative and performing arts, the work of individual artists and related branches of the culture industries (fiction publishing, feature film production, classical music recordings, and the record industry, broadcasting, video and multimedia production) with sufficiently high level of cultural content. Secondly, this narrower definition covers the main domains of cultural services (public libraries and cultural programmes of adult education institutions) and cultural heritage (historical monuments and buildings, cultural sites, historical and art museums) and international cultural co-operation. General arts education (for children, youth) is usually included, while professional arts education is usually excluded for administrative reasons (they belong to the jurisdiction of higher education and science, as do the National Library and scientific and research libraries, archives and related information services).

The wider statistical definition includes all culture industries irrespective of content, professional education in the arts and culture and all museums, scientific libraries and archives. Cultural statistics describe production, supply, finances, public support, labour force, education, participation and consumption in diverse fields of art and culture.


Chapter published: 24-04-2017


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